Indigenous Boys Matter Too: Edmonton program offers safe, healthy alternatives

Everything from cultural beading to traditional games and nature walks are being offered to inspire Indigenous boys living in Edmonton.

The Tuesday afternoon drop-in program is called Indigenous Boys Matter Too or IBM, and is aimed at male youth aged 15 to 17 until the end of August.

“The whole intention of Indigenous Boys Matter Too is to offer a space for Indigenous boys to learn about their culture, learn about their role as men in a healthy way,” explained program co-ordinator Ambrose Cardinal.

“We want to try to unpack some of the things we deal with as young men.”

Joe Swampy is a knowledge-keeper and teacher with the program held at the Edmonton Intercultural Centre.

Wrap-around beading is one of the cultural activities offered 15- to 17-year-old Indigenous boys in Edmonton. Photo: Ambrose Cardinal

“So they are just going to learn some of the teachings of the beads,” he said. “I’ll even teach about the beginning. What we used originally.”

One of the boys is Azril, who says he has beaded a little before.

“We are wrapping (the beads) around,” he said. “It’s always been when we were doing the beadwork before it was on a flat surface, and made flowers and stuff like that.”

Cardinal says the activities are about giving the boys a space to be, well, safe.

“We try to give them the tools to be able to work in ceremony,” he said, “to work in the community, to also be able to better themselves through education.”

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